Access and Visitation Rights

As the resident of a nursing home or assisted living center, you or your loved one has the rights to access and visitation. In particular, let’s look at a few that the facility must provide access to residents by any of the following people:

  • Any representative of the Secretary
  • Any representative of the State
  • The resident’s physician
  • The state’s long-term care ombudsman
  • The agency responsible for the protection and advocacy system for developmentally disabled people.
  • The agency responsible for the protection and advocacy system for mentally ill individuals

The facility must also give reasonable access to any resident by any entity or individual that gives health, social, legal or other services to the resident, subject to the resident’s right to deny or withdrawal consent at any time. It must give access to any representative of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the State, the person’s individual physician, State long term care ombudsman, or the agencies responsible for the protection and advocacy of developmentally disabled or mentally ill individuals.

The resident also cannot refuse to see surveyors, and the individuals or entities listed above are not subject to visiting hour limitations. What’s more—immediate family or other relatives are also not subject to visiting hour limitations or those that have not been imposed by the resident themselves. However:

  • The facility may try to change the location of visits to help with caregiving or protect the privacy of other residents.
  • Care should be taken to make sure that visitation rights do not get in the way of the rights of other residents. For instance, families meeting in the late evening hours may want to move to another area to avoid a roommate from losing sleep.

Non-family members can also be granted “immediate access” to the resident.

  • The facility can place restrictions on the exercise of this right, like reasonable visitation hours to better facilitate care giving for the resident, or to protect the privacy of other residents.

An individual or representative of an agency that provides health, social, legal or other services to the resident has the right of “reasonable access.”

  • The facility might establish guidelines regarding timing or other circumstances of the visit, like location. These guidelines have to allow for easy access of the residents to these services, and facilities support this right by:
  • Making sure residents and families are informed of their rights regarding visitations.
  • Ensuring a private space is available for residents to have visitors during the day and in the evening.
  • Informing residents and visitors of spaces that are available for visitations (such as chapels, activity rooms, or an empty office, as long as nothing is going on there at the time).
  • Supporting a resident’s right to choose whether or not they accept a visitor.